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El Paso, TX — The UTEP women’s basketball team was picked second in the 2013-14 Conference USA Preseason Poll, as voted upon the league’s 16 head coaches. Additionally, senior forward Kayla Thornton was tabbed to the all-conference preseason team for the second straight year.
“We have a lot of work to do,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We’re excited to get our season started. We understand that we have several new members to our conference and every night out will be a dog fight.”
The 2013-14 season will mark the 40th in program history. The Miners will be vying for their school-record eighth straight year with at least 16 wins. UTEP has not experienced a losing season since 2005-06.
UTEP returns four starters & seven letterwinners overall while adding seven newcomers.
UTEP will play host to the Conference USA Championships for the second time since joining the conference. The league’s pinnacle event is slated for March 11-15, 2014.
The Miners are coming off their fourth 20+ win season in the past seven years. UTEP finished 22-10 & advanced to the 2013 Conference USA Semifinals in spite of having lost three key players to torn ACLs.
Sophomore Irene Gari (5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg), junior Chrishauna Parker (9.0 ppg, 9.2 rpg & 3.9 apg) senior Kayla Thornton (15.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 61 steals) & senior Kelli Willingham (9.7 ppg, 2.9 apg & 2.8 rpg) return as starters from 2012-13.
Sophomore Cameasha Turner (3.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg & 1.0 apg) also earned a letter last year.
Sophomore Jenzel Nash is expected back after missing the entire 2012-13 season due to a torn ACL in an exhibition contest while senior Kristine Vitola was granted a redshirt after competing in just three games before also sustaining a torn ACL.
Reinforcements are also on the way for the 2013-14 campaign in the form of a seven-member recruiting class. Sophomore Agata Dobrowolska (member of the junior national team in Poland), sophomore Anete Kirsteine (2012 All-Jayhawk West second team & WBCA All-America honorable-mention), freshman Anzhelika Moiseychenko, freshman Sparkle Taylor (2012 & 2013 Associated Press Class B All-State team), junior & El Paso Stacie Telles (2013 Western Junior College Athletic Conference Second Team, 2013 All-Region 5 team & 2012 WJCAC honorable-mention) & junior Johnishia Welles (2013 All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Second Team, 2013 All-Region Second Team) should provide quality depth.
League newcomer Middle Tennessee State was tabbed as the favorite.
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